The Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is listed as a threatened species in Canada under the Species at Risk Act. In Canada, it breeds in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and possibly in Nova Scotia. The Least Bittern generally inhabits freshwater marshes with dense, tall emergent vegetation (primarily cattails), but may also be found in shrubby swamps. The Canadian population of this inconspicuous and secretive species has not been intensely studied; hence there is a need for a reliable standardized field survey methodology to increase the detection probability of this marsh bird in order to effectively collect vital data on its population abundance, distribution and habitat preferences. This document presents a protocol specifically developed to survey the Least Bittern which uses the call-broadcast method to improve detection and which incorporates wetland-specific techniques to gather habitat information at multiple spatial scales.
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